Understand what academic misconduct means at Sussex and what will happen if there is a concern about your work.

Types of academic misconduct

Academic misconduct can be intentional or unintentional. It is defined by the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education as:

“Any action by a student which gives or has the potential to give an unfair advantage in an examination or assessment, or might assist someone else to gain an unfair advantage, or any activity likely to undermine the integrity essential to scholarship and research.”

At Sussex, this can be:

  • plagiarism
  • collusion
  • personation
  • exam misconduct 
  • fabrication of results
  • breach of research ethics.

All instances of academic misconduct are a threat to the nitegrity and fariness of the assessment process and value of the University's awards, and breach our academic integrity values.

Defining academic misconduct

Read these definitions carefully. The academic requirements of studying at Sussex may differ from where you’ve studied previously.


Plagiarism is the use, without acknowledgement, of the intellectual work of other people, and the act of representing the ideas or discoveries of another as one’s own in written work submitted for assessment. To copy sentences, phrases or even striking expressions without acknowledgement of the source (either by inadequate citation or failure to indicate verbatim quotations), is plagiarism; to paraphrase without acknowledgement is likewise plagiarism. Where such copying or paraphrasing has occurred, the mere mention of the source in the bibliography shall not be deemed sufficient acknowledgement; each such instance must be referred specifically to its source. Verbatim quotations must be either in inverted commas, or indented, and directly acknowledged.

Find out how to avoid plagiarism on Skills Hub.


Collusion is the preparation or production of work for assessment jointly with another person or persons unless explicitly permitted by the assessment. An act of collusion is understood to encompass those who actively assist others or allow others to access their work prior to submission for assessment. In addition any student is guilty of collusion if they access and copy any part of the work of another to derive benefit irrespective of whether permission was given. Where joint preparation is permitted by the assessment task but joint production is not, the submitted work must be produced solely by the student making the submission. Where joint production or joint preparation and production of work for assessment is specifically permitted, this must be published in the appropriate module documentation.

Find out how to avoid collusion on Skills Hub.


Personation in written submissions is where someone, or software (unless explicitly permitted in the assessment guidance from the module convenor) other than the student prepares the work, part of the work, or provides substantial assistance with work submitted for assessment. This includes but is not limited to: AI generated text or responses; purchasing essays from essay banks; commissioning someone else to write an assessment; writing an assessment for someone else (including where no benefit is gained by the student producing the assessment); using a proofreader where this is not allowed; using substantive changes proposed by a proof reader or third party (person or electronic service) that do not adhere to the University guidance on proofreading; work that has been written in a language other than the language required for assessment and translated (for language based assessments only); work including sections that have been translated without acknowledgement.

Personation in examinations includes asking someone else to sit an examination. Students who attend an examination without their student ID-card or other acceptable form of photo-ID will not have their examination script marked until their identity has been confirmed.

Cases of personation will usually be considered to be major misconduct, with the exception of proofreading and translation transgressions where they are limited in their extent and may be considered to be minor misconduct.

Find out how and why to avoid personation on Skills Hub.

Exam misconduct

Misconduct in examinations held on campus includes having, or attempting to gain access, during an examination, to any books, memoranda, notes (including notes on paper or transcribed on the student’s skin), unauthorised calculators, phones, watches or other internet enabled devices or any other material, except such as may have been supplied by the invigilator or authorised by official university bodies. Having these items on the student’s person in the exam room after the start of the exam is a breach of examination room protocols and as such misconduct, regardless of whether or not they are accessed or are relevant to the examination. Misconduct also includes aiding or attempting to aid another student or obtaining or attempting to obtain aid from another student, or any other communication within the examination room.

Misconduct in exams taken remotely includes using the following in the completion of the submitted exam answer paper, except where these have been authorised as part of the assessment task: text or ideas taken from the internet or other sources, unauthorised calculators, material provided by someone else including another student or an essay writing service. Misconduct in an exam taken remotely also includes sharing material with, or otherwise helping, another student prior to them submitting their answer paper.

Misconduct in exams held on campus or remotely also includes cases where the exam question paper or model answers have been obtained and/or shared in advance of the exam, except where such material has been provided as part of the assessment task.

The University takes misconduct in examination extremely seriously and any concerns raised will result in an investigation of potential major academic misconduct.

Find out how to avoid exam misconduct on Skills Hub.

Fabrication of results

Fabrication of results is where the results of an experiment, focus group or other research activity have been made up. This also includes observations in practical or project work, such as recording the outcome of a lab experiment that didn’t go as planned.

Find out why you should avoid fabricating results on Skills Hub.

Breach of research ethics

Breach of research ethics includes failure to gain ethical approval; carrying out research without appropriate permission; breach of confidentiality or improper handling of privileged or private information on individuals gathered during data collection; coercion or bribery of project participants. Students conducting research with human participants, personal data (including that collected from social media and other sources), non-human animal subjects or research that may have a detrimental impact on the environment, must gain ethical approval before carrying out the research, this includes before contacting potential participants and/or advertising the study.

Students are responsible for complying with the requirements set out as part of the approval process including consulting with their supervisor, in the submission of formal amendments for subsequent changes in their approved research.

Tip: The best thing to do is learn how to avoid academic misconduct in the first place.

If you follow our guidelines you’re unlikely to have a problem.

Getting language tutorials and understanding UK academic culture can help if you are adapting to learning at Sussex.

If you're notified of academic misconduct

You will normally be told by your School if there is a concern with your work.

If the person marking your work is concerned about academic misconduct, they will refer your assessment to an Investigating Officer, who will decide whether there is a case to take forwards. This depends on the extent and type of misconduct and whether you have done it before. The Investigating Officer decides if there’s no case, it'seligible for the First Case process, or should go to a panel

You can contact your Academic Advisor if you want to discuss the process or check how to avoid academic misconduct in future.

First cases

If this is a first case of plagiarism or collusion, and you have not had any previous instances of academic misconduct, you will be asked to meet with the module convenor to discuss what went wrong with your work. After this, you’ll be enrolled on to an academic practice workshop online course. Email academicmisconduct@sussex.ac.uk if you don’t receive an invite or would like to self-refer on to a workshop.

You will not get marks for work that is:

  • not your own (in a case of plagiarism)
  • the same as another student’s work (in a case of collusion).

There will be some effect on the mark you get for your assessment.

The first case process does not apply to personation, fabrication of results, exam misconduct or breach of research ethics. Your case will go before a panel.

Important: If you’re in the final year of an undergraduate course or the last stages of a Masters, your case will be referred to an academic misconduct panel rather than being treated as a first case.

Academic misconduct panels

If the first case process does not apply to you, you'll be invited to attend an academic misconduct panel and provide a statement. The statement should explain what happened and can help the panel understand your case.

Panel meetings are normally held online and typically last 30 minutes.

The panel comprises a Chairperson and two panel members, one of whom is usually a Students' Union officer.

There will also be a member of University staff taking notes.

Other people in the panel meeting can include:

  • someone from your school presenting the information to the panel (normally the module convenor)
  • a current Sussex academic, chosen by you, to help represent your case
  • a Support and Advocacy advisor from the Students’ Union
  • you, if you can attend.

If you attend, you’re able to give a better account of your case and answer any questions.

Exceptional circumstances

Academic misconduct panels cannot consider exceptional circumstances when making decisions.

If you’re unable to complete the assessment because of your situation you should make a claim for exceptional circumstances, rather than resort to academic misconduct.

Exam misconduct

If you have no previous instances of any type of academic misconduct (and, if it was a remote exam, you agree that misconduct occurred), your case will be considered on behalf of a panel by a designated member of staff.

You won’t attend a panel unless we refer your case to a panel. You’ll get no mark for the exam.

If you do have previous instances of academic misconduct, or you do not agree that misconduct occurred during a discussion with the module convenor or marker about an exam taken remotely, you will be considered by a panel.


If you’ve not been considered by a panel before, the types of penalties include:

  • 10 percentage points off your mark (not 10% of the mark) – this normally happens where the misconduct is minimal
  • no mark for your assessment, where your misconduct is more serious.

In rare cases you might be given one of the penalties below.

If this isn’t your first time being considered by a panel, penalties also include:

  • no mark for the whole module – you’ll normally get a resit
  • your grand mean being reduced by up to 10 percentage points – this can affect your whole degree classification
  • reducing your entire classification, such as being taken from a First down to a 2:1
  • being disqualified from the University for at least three years.

See our Academic Misconduct Policy for full penalty details.

Getting the outcome

If you attend the panel you will be told the outcome at the end of the discussion. You’ll also get a letter afterwards confirming the decision.

If you don’t attend, you’ll get a letter anyway that confirms the outcome.

Submit an appeal

If you think there has been an error in the process, you can appeal an academic misconduct decision.

Speak to the Students’ Union

The Students’ Union offers a free support and advocacy service. Get in touch if you have been contacted about academic misconduct.

Advice and representation provided by a Student Voice Advocate is independent from the University, and is offered in strictest confidence.

You can call the Students’ Union on 01273 877038 or email advice@sussexstudent.com.


If you work for Sussex, you should refer to our academic misconduct regulations for staff.

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